Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We'll Miss You, Pancake

Pancake the Cat
September 2003-November 4, 2008

On October 25, 2003, Pancake the cat came to live with John and me. He wasn’t Pancake yet though; he was just a little, scrawny black kitten with no name. He may not have had a name, but he did have fleas—lots of fleas. Pancake spent much of his first evening in the bathtub. Poor little kitty!

Baby Pancake

Pancake was a black kitten, and I wanted to name him something unique and sophisticated, like Ebony or Sable, but John didn’t take to those names. I was totally kidding when I suggested we name him Pancake. We live beside a busy highway, and I figured the cat would probably get ran over, so I said that we should name him Pancake because he was destined to get ran over and become as flat as a pancake. John apparently liked that name, because no matter what other name I suggested, he kept calling the kitten Pancake! The name stuck.

John and Our Little Kitten

The neighborhood dogs finally had a reason to bark when Pancake came to live with us. Pancake was just a little guy—so little that he could fit in between the holes of the chain link fence—but he already had an uncanny ability to drive the neighborhood dogs nuts. All except for, Philoh, the dog next door. Pancake and Philoh were fast friends (well, for awhile..at some point Pancake decided not to waste his time bothering with dogs anymore). Pancake would go over to Philoh’s yard to play or nap with the dog. It was so cute!

After a week or so, Pancake was obviously lonely with us being at work all day, so we brought home his brother, too! His brother was dubbed Sticky, and he helped Pancake get into all sorts of mischief. In the year that we had both Pancake and Sticky, they managed to break an old aquarium, dent our car, knock a box of glassware off a high shelf, put holes in our screens, and often send fur flying during their crazy, hilarious wrestling matches. We sometimes thought that the two cats were more trouble than they were worth but loved them anyway. John spent many chilly evenings calling the adventurous twosome home so that they could spend the night in the house instead of outdoors in the cold.

Pancake and Sticky

As the cats got older, it became apparent that two tom cats, even if they were brothers, could not live together peacefully. Pancake went missing for a week, came back, and then Sticky disappeared but never returned. Pancake didn’t seem to mind—he had all the neighborhood women to himself (even though he was a “fixed” cat, Pancake got along much better with female cats which I always thought was odd). We still wonder what happened to Sticky. We hope he moved in with a nice cat lady who spoils him with cream and tuna.

The average cat has nine lives, but Pancake must have had twenty-three. He was always getting into scrapes and had lots of near misses. One time, as I was closing the garage door, the cat was sitting perfectly still, and suddenly when there was only, like, two inches between the floor and the door (seriously—the gap was sooo small!), Pancake dodged under the door and was lodged there. I quickly pushed the button on the garage door to make it go up, but then THE DOOR WENT DOWN FURTHER! I was sure there was no way Pancake could survive being decapitated by the garage door, but when I got the door to go up, there he was—head intact. He acted funny for awhile, but amazingly, he soon seemed to be just fine. Pancake had another bad experience with the garage door. Once, as we were backing out of the garage door, John happened to look at the door as we were backing out of the driveway. Two black legs were kicking out of the top of the door! Pancake must have been asleep on the open door and got stuck when we closed it. John frantically opened the door, and Pancake was freed. Somehow, he survived again. He learned his lesson after the second garage door event and was more cautious in the future. There was another near miss, when a neighbor saw Pancake get run over by a car, but he somehow managed to stay in between the tires! He also got into many cat fights—I don’t know how many times John and I would hear cats yowling in the middle of the night. He would often come home with cuts and bites the first few years we had him, but then eventually I guess he chased off all the other male cats aroundand became king of the neighborhood.

Not only was Pancake a terrific fighter, he was also a great hunter. The little boys down the street call him, “Killer” and asked me several times why my cat murdered so many rabbits. Our driveway usually had evidence of Pancake’s night time feasts, and friends were often grossed out by the “treats” Pancake left for us. He was so generous and always left us a little intestine or a mouse head. Sometimes he even brought us live critters; he traumatized me by bringing home a baby rabbit family (so sad!), he occasionally would chase a mouse into the garage instead of out, and he once stirred up a whole flock of birds when he brought home a live starling. That was the creepiest thing—it was right out of a Hitchcock movie. Pancake caught a starling, and while he was playing with his food like cats do, a flock of birds surrounded him. The birds were cawing and making all kinds of racket. There were birds everywhere! Occasionally, one would kind of fly at Pancake, and he would let the captive bird go for a second and then catch it again. After a while of being taunted by the flock, Pancake had enough and let the bird go. It flew away and seemed to be fine. I’m pretty sure Pancake had nightmares about that hunting experience though. Oh, and once, he brought home a young HAWK! Have you ever heard of a cat catching a hawk before? It was crazy. I was just sure the hawk would end up tearing Pancake to shreds, but somehow John and I managed to intervene. We had to put Pancake in the house to get him to leave the poor hawk alone. I had a lot of cats growing up, but I never had a cat who hunted as much as Pancake. If we liked to eat rodents, he would have been a great provider. It was really quite disgusting, but he had the best of intentions.

When Colter was born, we weren’t sure how the two would get along. Their first meeting was pretty funny; Pancake freaked out! Colter was in his bouncy seat in the floor one day when Pancake walked across the room. When Pancake noticed that there was something alive in the bouncy seat, he sprang back, and his fur stood on end! It was hilarious! After that, Pancake and Colter got along great. Pancake was always very patient with Colter and even allowed some tail-pulling. Colter loved to watch Pancake through the window and loved to pet Pancake when we went outside. Recently, Colter started reminding me to feed Pancake. After Colter finishes his breakfast, he goes to where Pancake’s food is stored and drags it to the door. It’s so sweet!

Colter and His Buddy, Pancake

Several weeks ago, Pancake stopped eating and started losing a lot of weight. We brought him to the vet, and unfortunately learned that Pancake was infected with two untreatable feline viruses*—feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. The vet said that after cats get to the point when they are not eating, there’s really not much hope for them. We brought Pancake home and tried to nurse him back to health but never could get him to eat again—he couldn’t keep anything down. Because he was suffering and because it was obvious he wasn’t going to survive, we made the difficult decision to have him put to sleep. Pancake the cat wasn’t run over after all.

We will miss Pancake so much. We’ll miss seeing him in the driveway waiting for us to get home. We’ll miss the way he would follow us around the yard as we did yard work or played with Colter. We’ll miss how he took naps on the barbeque grill and how he would climb up the screen door if he wanted our attention. We love you, Pancake.

*The vet said that Pancake probably had one of the viruses for a long time. He may have even been born with it. Even so, I feel really guilty that we weren’t very diligent in making sure that Pancake was vaccinated as often as he should have been. We hadn’t taken him to get his shots in a few years. Ten percent of male fighting cats die from one or both of these viruses, so learn from our mistake. Vaccinate your cats!


Rachel said...

Pancake - you had the roughest tongue of any cat I know, but you were pretty sweet. Glad you aren't hurting anymore!

jill marie said...

Praying for you and the loss of your family member. Losing a pet is so difficult, so I do hope that you are doing okay.

Jenn said...

Aww, I'm sorry we put my cat to sleep lat year after having her for 12 I bawled my eyes out. I know he will be missed by your family.

Heidi said...

I am sorry for your loss. What stories you have to tell of him! Wonderful memories to conjure up when you are missing him.

Take care.

(And good message about the vaccinations! Being the wife of a veterinarian I also remind people adopting a new kitten that "nothing good happens to kitties outside." --- I realize that Pancake was already an outdoor cat.)

Gina said...

So sorry to hear about Pancake. He sounds like he was a pretty remarkable cat. I enjoyed your story about him, made me laugh out loud a few times.
We lost our cat when someone we thought was a reliable house sitter took care of things while we were on vacation a couple years ago, needless to say he wasn't so reliabe and our precious cat paid the price.

Heidi said...

Ok, totally crying here but I'm such an animal lover. Poor Pancake, he sounded like a wonderful cat. Great eulogy. :) Better than most humans I've read!

Heather said...

What a wonderful tribute to Pancake. I am sorry for your loss.

wolfqueen2 said...

It's not nice to make an old woman cry so early in the morning. I am sorry for your loss. I know he will be missed. We "aquired" an outside cat some time ago and I named him "Babycakes". He was not "human" friendly at all, but loved our dogs. I have since been able to get him to trust me and now I can pet him, but no one else. Our "eldery" female "indoor" cat takes exception to his smell on me, but she gets over it.